The national Aarresaari network is again conducting a career monitoring survey. The survey helps students explore their career options and enables working graduates to reflect on their choices.
Pirkka Pekkarinen, a doctoral graduate from the Faculty of Medicine in 2014, is one of the people who will receive the career monitoring survey this year. After graduating as a Licentiate of Medicine in 2010, Pekkarinen has worked as a university researcher and in clinical duties as a specialising physician in anaesthesiology and intensive care. Also active in the delegation of the Junior Doctors’ Association in Finland, Pekkarinen shares his time between research and clinical practice.
“My dissertation was purely about basic research, but I have since begun to establish my position as a practising physician who also conducts research. I currently work at an intensive care ward and try to sensibly incorporate my research and my clinical work,” Pekkarinen says.
According to Pekkarinen, Finnish medical education is of a very high standard. Information on employment can help, for example, students who are close to completing their Licentiate degree.
“When students enter university, they know what they will be doing for the next six years. But once they begin their fifth year, they suddenly start to pay more attention to issues relating to careers and employment,” Pekkarinen muses.
Quality of education and changes in the world of work
Pekkarinen believes that the strength of Finnish medical education has long resided in its hands-on approach. Licentiate of Medicine degree holders can make independent decisions as soon as they graduate, although they continue to learn on the job.
“In Central Europe, for example, the education is much more theoretical. I believe our system provides better practical skills,” Pekkarinen states.
A general concern in Finland, however, relates to the increasing sizes of student groups in recent years. When teaching medical students from 2011 to 2013, Pekkarinen observed how this affected the teaching staff. The pressure on them may reduce hands-on time with students. Gaps in learning may only emerge once graduates enter the world of work.
Medical graduates must prepare for continuous reforms in the job market. Pekkarinen says that organisational changes are now the rule rather than the exception. This means that the role of teamwork and communication skills is continuously increasing in the medical profession.
“Although the workplace may not change physically, the duties of staff may evolve within the organisation. Doctors need more than just medical expertise. They must be able to communicate with other medical staff and with patients and their family members.”
Career tracking helps students set their own direction
Career tracking is needed, as the process of seeking admission to specialist education is being reviewed. Graduates with practical work experience can help their younger colleagues establish an overview of various fields at an early stage.
“This kind of information helps students understand what it would be like to work as a researcher and what a field such as anaesthesiology is like in practice,” Pekkarinen explains.
The survey may also provide a good opportunity for self-reflection. The medical profession is often seen as a calling, which also affects motivation.
“Few of those who seek admission to specialist education have in-depth knowledge of what the work entails. It’s interesting to take a moment to reflect on how you would justify the field you have chosen to yourself,” Pekkarinen smiles.
Career monitoring of universities
Universities use career monitoring surveys to gather information about how graduates find employment and what kinds of skills employers are looking for.
The survey is conducted by the Aarresaari career services network of Finnish universities.
The current career monitoring survey covers graduates who completed a second-cycle degree or a Bachelor’s degree in pharmacy or kindergarten teaching in 2012 as well as doctoral graduates of 2014.
The survey results are used in study guidance, the development of education and teaching as well as in research on the career development of university graduates.
The answers will be processed confidentially and the results reported in a way that individual respondents cannot be identified. The career monitoring data is stored anonymised in an electronic format in the Finnish Social Sciences Data Archive.
Read the results of previous career monitoring surveys